A Descriptive Guide To Selling Print-On-Demand Products In 2020

Do you need to make some extra bucks selling merchandise using the POD technique? Well, print-on-demand is not a virtual reality concept but a dropshipping model that’s increasingly becoming commercially viable. 

Print-on-demand, in the same manner as other selling structures, has a great potential to generate decent revenue for the end retailer

For newbies, a print on demand is a striking category in the ecommerce business model. It's easy to get started since you don't need to have any inventory. To balance the equation, it’s needless to say that you need to put in a significant portion of creativity.

And here’s why.

You need to have incomparable design concepts. The better part of it is that a merchant doesn't have to create the designs. There are, out of the ordinary print on demand companies to help you out. We'll look at some of the pre-eminent ones later in this guide.

 To straighten up your profit margins up, you might want to look at a couple of print design options. 

Just to give you a hint, it’s sensible to list some of the feasible niches in the market. Print on demand products, in the first instance, are usually blank products. 

Marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba sell plain hoodies, t-shirts, mugs, and caps that are of standard quality. 

An online retailer gets to source the merchandise and custom- designs the graphics. There’s one quintessential thing that makes the print on demand formula make strides over other models. And it’s that POD gives the seller an autonomy to customize their products. They can equally work with designs from customers.

There are no design limits, in other words. Custom products have a winning customer base. The moment a customer places an order, the retailer instantaneously designs the print, makes a finished product, and ships it to the shopper.

How the print-on-demand model works

It’s time to give this guide a practical perspective. 

The print on demand seems to accommodate so many businesses. A writer, for instance, can perfectly fit in this model and yield better profit markups like never before. One way to do that is by selling demand books. 

The same goes for artists and designers. At the moment, it’s not uncommon to see art prints and wall arts listed on 3rd party sales channels. 

So how do these professionals bank on the POD system? You might ask. 

As it’s the case with other drop shipping models, there are a couple of POD options to suit your specific niche. To attain an unparalleled target audience, you might want to reach the peak by ultimately standing out from the bunch.

Customers need to have a staggering confidence in your products’ quality. Big print- on- demand companies use this strategy to have returning customers, all year long. 

The quality of your materials needs to be up to the mark. This way, it’s pretty difficult to fall short of your revenue prospects. As a rule of thumb, the primary step to maintain the value that customers see in your products is by sourcing exceptional quality products from suppliers.

To print a custom design, it’s obvious that you need a blank product. One that has no markings. While placing an order from a supplier, it’s prudent to seek clarifications on the same. 

Print-on-demand (POD) dropshipping

Taking into account the current trends, the POD model seems to be entirely in line with the drop shipping technique. A transaction takes effect once a customer places an order. In that effect, the merchant doesn’t need to hold onto any inventory whatsoever. 

That practically means you don’t necessarily need to have large chunks of stock levels in your warehouse. If you opt to use a sales channel, say Shopify, you can test a couple of POD products. The end goal is to find one that has the potential to make huge revenues.

Moreover, with POD dropshipping, you can leave every prerequisite task at the hands of the supplier. This includes printing the custom design and shipping the finished product to the end buyer. In so doing, the retailer gets to ease the order fulfillment process, concisely.

To be clear on this part, you can test the print on demand service to explore untapped business opportunities in a particular niche. In close connection to that, this helps you make some extra bucks out of a pre-built customer audience. 

The best way to look at it is to put into consideration, your influence on social media platforms. Instagram, for example, can be a practical medium to create shoppable posts for your POD products.

Factoring in the need to carve a super-duper niche, a retailer can create visibility for their brand using the most conventional print-on-demand ideas. This, in turn, sets you apart from the bunch of competitors yearning for an equal audience in the market. 

Mainstream print-on-demand product ideas

T-shirts

There are so many ideas you test using the print-on-demand model. Plain t-shirts are the picture-perfect products merchants can use to sell their custom brands. Most suppliers sell a wide range of t-shirt designs (v-neck, round neck, polo t-shirts) in bulk and at exceedingly low prices. 

The deal with t-shirts is that they’re high selling and are easily adaptable to so many print-on-demand services. SMB owners, for example, might find it easy to customize their companies’ brands on t-shirts. 

Backpacks

This is one niche that is not highly saturated, and at the same time, has a high conversion potential. You can source some of the trendsetting fabric design prints from a platform such as Pinterest which has an influx of freshly updated designs.

To a college millennial or highschool teen, a custom branded backpack would feel like a must-have. So the POD drop shipper needs to work with the right demographics.

Drawstring bags also fall under this category. They are predominantly used as merchandise by organizations to figuratively raise some sort of theme awareness. 

Hoodies

Closely similar to t-shirts, selling custom printed hoodies often goes a long way. So far, China’s market is aggressively banking on selling replica hoodies. 

If you see a ‘Champion’ branded hoodie on AliExpress retailing at $30, then chances are, it’s a replica. Even so, there’s so much revenue that retailers are generating out of this. But on the contrary, it’s so significant to pay close attention to quality.

Retailers have a solid option to sell POD services to online shoppers by printing any design which they request. 

Mugs

It’s one of the most saturated niche categories in the POD model, yet a high-yielding one. If you walk in a big firm, you won’t miss spotting a mug that’s branded with the company’s logo.

For most organizations, it’s more like a ritual that’s pretty hard to let go. To make sensible sales, you need to be a little crafty and design brands that are beyond the bare bone, so to speak.

Yoga pants

Yoga lessons are here to stay. What a better way to monetize your POD business than venturing into yoga pants? 

They are easy to blend with multiple print designs. Looking at the number of Yoga enthusiasts, it’s true to say that the market potential is quite remarkable. This suggests that you can add this to your online store’s product category as a POD service. 

Phone covers

Nearly every one of us owns a smartphone. 

To give your mobile device a glossy look and hide those embarrassing dents, a customized cover sounds like a cheap yet penetrating revamp idea. 

You only need a decent entrepreneurial spirit to hone some eccentric design skills that add up to your print on demand business goals.

Towels

Selling custom printed towels is a grand plan to boost some sales on your POD’s storefront. I’m pretty sure that this might sound a little far fetched. 

People embrace going to the beach. There’s no doubt about that. That’s unquestionably a market demand to leverage on as an online retailer. Not only do ecommerce stores selling fancy towels gain lots of traffic from summer lovers, but also gym members.

Wall stickers

At some point, you might want to add some extra accessories to their personal living space. How about being an interior deco guru? 

It sounds like a bold idea.

You might be startled by the craze people have for lightening up their living spaces. What a potential hunter for this needs to have in check are close links to premium quality canvas suppliers.

Leggings

Whether it’s that early morning jog or a yoga session, leggings are always a good mood gesture for ladies. 

Leggings are sporty and convenient for such exercises. To supplement it all, some online stores opt to add a yoga mat as a ‘frequently bought together’ item. That’s a strategy with some multi-fold perks.

First, you get to expand your print on demand service base by introducing a new product on your catalogs.

Secondly, you test your potential buyer’s impulsiveness to make more sales. 

Neckties

The casual Friday mood makes most of the 9-5 employees want to dress up and have that unmatched office look. 

A necktie is ideally one niche product that sort of blends in with trendy designs. After all, it fits any occasion no matter the day of the week just like socks or a watch.

A summary of other POD product findings

  • Pin-back buttons
  • Throw pillows
  • Fridge magnets
  • Table cloths and blankets
  • Shower curtains

Best print-on-demand services: Print on demand sites

With the impactful progression of print-on-demand services, a merchant can optimize their objectives if they get a hold of the right tools.

So when it comes to selling a custom branded product to a customer, which is the best solution to source services from?

Well, to settle this puzzle, this section exhausts all the functionalities that each print on demand site has. 

So here’s the executive takeaway.

Printiful

 

So, far, Printiful tends to set the bar a notch higher, if we factor in all its features. 

Printiful, is, for the most part, an ecommerce sales channel that’s more inclined to print on demand products. 

Thankfully, there are no signup fees or any minimum order. The software allows users to either sell their stuff or buy straight from Printiful.

To put it in a nutshell, Printiful gets you on the frontline anytime you need to customize and drop ship any of these products;

  • Backpacks
  • Hoodies and sweatshirts
  • Engraved wristbands
  • Coffee mugs 
  • Stickers
  • Sports bras
  • Jackets
  • Phone cases
  • Sweatpants
  • Tote bags
  • Leggings
  • Swimwear 
  • Beach Towels

There’s so much more to order from Printiful. 

How Printiful's print-on-demand service works

Same as other POD solutions, you need to first connect your ecommerce store to Printiful. Most of its users are Shopify store owners. Printiful syncs quite seamlessly with other bigwig sales channels such as;

Conversely, merchants can work with giant marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Wish, and Inktale.

By integrating your store with Printiful, you can now virtually upload products with your designs. The POD software automates the order fulfillment process and eases the logistics part of it. 

To put everything into a practical context, you can send all orders from your suppliers to Printiful’s warehouse. Printiful’s team prints all orders, packs, and ships to their rightful customers.

As part of the order fulfillment, the team promptly sends a notification to the retailer and attaches a tracking number on each shipment.

The result? 

Your buyer receives the product packaged in your brand. Superficially, it will seem like you shipped it yourself. 

Printiful’s foremost features

Aside from warehousing and order fulfillment, there’s much more to gain from Printful that consolidates your print on demand dropshipping business. At any rate, it still goes above the bare minimum since it has four centrally located warehouses at the moment.

On the ground, Printiful has camp bases in North Carolina, Mexico, California, and Latvia. It’s therefore so easy to reach out to your customers. The POD solution works with global carrier companies that lessen the shipping costs. 

To stabilize your deliveries' success rate, this POD oriented platform has a wide-reaching number of print customizations options

Since Printiful syncs with your store faultlessly, you can automate the order import process at the click of a button. Its mobile friendliness leaves nothing to chance. Printiful being a cloud-based software, a user can access it via an app on both iOS and Android devices. 

Its ease of use removes any pragmatic hurdles you might find on a similar platform. Right from the dashboard, a merchant can design, sell and view the status of each ordered product.

Long story short, this Printful review unmasks the ins and out of the platform on a broader perspective. 

Printify

Printify is somewhat confusingly similar to Printiful. There's absolutely no doubt about that. And not just the prefix alone guys.

It's still a high-ranking solution with features that are sort of similar to those of Printiful. 

I did a couple of ‘rat tests’ using the free plan to decrypt its creative potential. Not only is Printify free to use, but also has an integrated network of print design suppliers

 With over 250 unique products to list on your store, Printify works as a rigid alternative for many POD retailers. 

How does Printify's print-on-demand service work?

From top to bottom, Printify operates in the same manner as Printiful, effectively. The user gets to select a product from its POD focused catalog. If you have a particular brand or logo in mind, Printify’s design options make all your potential customers’ demands to materialize. 

Just in case you have some confidence reservations about a product, you can make an order to get some samples. This way, you’re always privy to the kind of quality standard used to make your customers happy.

For the basic fact that this solution integrates with Shopify, that makes it garner some significant credibility in the action-packed market. Same as it’s close competitor, Printify also connects to major marketplaces and, of course, brawny ecommerce website builders.

 The likes of WooCommerce, Wix, and PrestaShop, stand tall on its integrations list. This is a hint to mean that a merchant can list products on their store and use Printify to be ahead of the game when it comes to the order fulfillment process.

The Printful API section, on the bright side, allows you to make all sorts of adjustments to elevate your ecommerce business. 

But what are the plans like?

The pricing is always on a merchant’s bucket list while looking out for the most gainful solution. Besides the free package which allows only 5 stores per account, there’s also a premium version of Printify.

With the latter plan, Printify lets the user scale up by connecting up to 10 different stores on one account. For only $29 per month, a merchant can customize the order import process and set up to 20% discount on each product

The Enterprise plan, on the other hand, carries the most perks. There are no limits to the number of online stores you might want to add. The user can get a custom quote for this plan upon making an official inquiry.

This premium version of Printify gives all its users first-hand access to updates and newly-launched features quite regularly. As mentioned before, you can work with custom API integrations. But to hold onto this feature, you must be hanging on the Enterprise package. 

Since this plan is sort of versatile, Printify gives you access to a dedicated account management team. 

To catch sight of all it’s ups and downs, please check our Printify’s review.

Lulu xPress

If you’re into selling books, Lulu xPress distinctively sets itself apart from the rest. It’s purposely designed to let merchants boost their turnovers in their respective bookselling businesses. 

On Lulu xPress, there are a wide number of print on demand options that make it whippy while designing and printing books.

How does Lulu xPress work?

 All you need to do is upload a file with the content that needs to be printed on your ordered books. The next salient step is to pick a well-connected book format. Lulu has a large chunk of format and layout options.

Over 3000 to be precise. The formats range from, A4 sizes to pocketbooks, digest guides, executive designs, and so much more. Once you make up your mind on which one to go with, you need to choose the binding options. That closely depends on the size of the book.

The color options are also worthwhile when fulfilling a book order. Quite remarkably, lulu xPress has a hands-on glance at what your print-on-demand needs are. For that reason, these are the color variants it has in store;

  • Standard black and white- It’s widely used on plain but comprehensive content. By that, I mean a book with little or no graphical illustrations and images. 
  • Standard text- This style suitably fits a book with weighty content and a couple of images on top of that. It’s perfect for use if you need your illustrations to just have some mid-range ink density. It’s commonly used since a merchant gets to save a couple of bucks on printing expenses. 
  • Premium black and white- As the name implies, this is a practical and elite version of the standard option. Its ink density is significantly heavy and ideal for a book with several images and graphical illustrations.
  • Premium-color- If your book needs to have more image content than text, this option serves you best. 

That aside, there is a wide range of paper types to choose from. Lulu xPress makes order fulfillment a straightforward process. The team ships orders to over 150 countries globally. To customize your print book entirely, it might take between 3-5 business days. 

For pricing inquiries, Lulu has an online calculator that auto generates a custom quote for each print order. To work with on-target figures, you need to select a project type; whether it’s a book or a calendar. 

Finally, you need to key in these project specifications:

  1. The trim size
  2. Number of pages
  3. Interior color(standard or premium)
  4. Paper type
  5. Binding type
  6. Cover book

The shipping rates solely rely on the type of carrier service you need to work with. Express shipping, for instance, might only take 2 working days in the US, Africa, Rest of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. 

For more info read our Lulu Xpress review.

ShopBase

With ShopBase, it’s now easier than ever to specialize in white labels and print-on-demand dropshipping. 

Same as other sales channels, you can build your online store here and start making online sales. An e-commerce website that runs on ShopBase is pretty quick on the uptake, to say the least. 

All of its product pages load fast; making it easier to speed up conversions. Every online merchant wants to get paid using the newfangled payment gateways. Thankfully, ShopBase is very much alive to this imminent fact. 

While setting up your print on demand online store, you can customize the checkout page to your liking. If you’re a little savvy, you can make a few changes using programming languages such as CSS and Javascript. 

To scale your business projections, ShopBase integrates with globally accepted payment solutions. This way, you can give potential customers room to maneuver while paying for products. The simple logic is that ShopBase has inbuilt functionality to allow the drop shipper process payments via;

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Visa
  • BlueSnap
  • Mastercard

ShopBase winning features

ShopBase, just like other sales channels such as Shopify or even WooCommerce, is loaded with tools to help one build a print-on-demand online store. 

The store builder has a wide array of customizable themes, most of which, are designed by highly skilled developers. Most importantly, ShobBase has a preview mode that depicts what exactly you're about to work with.

All themes on its marketplace are highly optimized to sit on stunning conversions. The latest stats show that most shoppers use their mobile devices to place orders. Since this is where most of the traffic comes from, ShopBase operates as a mobile-friendly software that’s seamlessly accessible.

All your cart options ought to be up to the mark. If not, the number of abandoned carts will eventually rise. To a print-on-demand store owner, this is more or less, disheartening. 

To even out the odds, ShopBase lets a user customize the checkout page to avoid possible mishaps. e-Commerce is sometimes about wins and losses. But the wins must outweigh the latter. That being so, ShopBase gives you a cart abandonment recovery solution to work with.

You can send email alerts to convince visitors to complete the checkout. Besides this, you can set up flexible shipping rates that a potential customer finds convenient.

You can choose to work with:

  • Fixed shipping price
  • Weight-based rates
  • Tiered pricing
  • Location-based pricing

While listing a product virtually, a merchant can opt to include a couple of related variants. The pleasant part about this feature is that a customer can shop by size, color, and the material of the product. 

A retailer can also set multiple images and bulk- import the product information via a CSV file. Practically speaking you can list nearly any product niche in the print-on-demand model. To suggest a few, you can try out leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, phone cases, tote bags, or even art prints.

In a gratifying way, ShopBase doesn’t limit its users on the number of product uploads.

To all intents and purposes, ShopBase markets itself as a cloud-based Saas solution. This means that just like Shopify, you get a mobile dashboard. From this end, you can visibly monitor all actions in real-time from any location so long as you have a mobile device. 

At the click of a button, a retailer gets to fulfill an order and contact a customer to update them on the order’s status.

Your online store’s security matters the most. First off, ShopBase is an SSL certified solution that’s keen enough to also run a fraud analysis on each order. 

Teespring

Teespring is an eCommerce platform that has gained so much traction over its competitors since it impressively changes the course of running a print on demand business. 

Each category is branched into other related listings. On Teespring, you can different sorts of socks(love socks, Camo socks, cat socks, passion socks).

On the home decor category, a merchant can place design orders for print-on-demand products like;

  • Pillows
  • Canvas prints
  • Tapestries
  • Posters

The same goes for the accessories and mugs category. But what seems to gain more attention in the print-on-demand categories t-shirts and sweatpants. The phone covers category is also doing pretty well. 

Spreadshirt

If you want to venture into the t-shirts niche, Spreadshirt lets you create personalized products in bulk, yet at low rates. This POD solution dates all the way back in 2002. So far, things are sufficiently running well for most POD drop shippers.

It’s sort of a directory of themed t-shirts. The print on demand solution works with newly developed techniques to design custom t-shirts. Think of any print design idea; a Halloween t-shirt, funny t-shirts or even an awareness printed one. 

Spreadshirt is a jack of such trades in the print-on-demand business. To start selling, you can build an online store here and list any product category that’s viable and high-selling. 

What sets it apart from the rest is its designs marketplace. You don’t need to tirelessly spend sleepless nights designing a logo. 

You can leave it to the experts. Spreadshirt’s independent designers are very much proficient in creating unique designs to suit your needs. 

That’s a driving factor that makes Spreadshirt a profound solution that’s up skilled with all the custom branded t-shirts demands. And not just t-shirts. Men, women, and kids' clothing are also part of its product catalog. This includes hoodies, tank tops, group wear, and gifts. 

As part of its incentive, or rather, ‘call-to-action’ technique, Spreadshirt gives its customers up to 70% discount whenever they place orders in bulk. All orders are also subject to a 30 days return policy

Gooten

Gooten is a print on demand platform which leads online entrepreneurs to newer heights. If you’re an online vendor using Shopify, Gooten allows you to make integrations in a speedy manner.

It has elementary editing tools that allow you to make designs for your products. Gooten is such a free spirit. I can’t term it as a niche-focused software in the print business, per se. Instead, it’s a dynamic solution that has a rich product listing on each category. 

Under its home & living category, for example, Gooten has a plethora of print designs for kitchen stuff like aprons and mugs. You can pick unique designs for products like pillows to add to your living room's accessories. A merchant can also do print designs for bathroom curtains. 

Speaking of ‘Apparel’, which is steadily becoming a high-selling category, Gooten cuts to the chase by listing what’s on high demand in the market. This saves you tons of time while pushing all orders to Gooten’s team. 

What’s more striking about Gooten is its white label support. This lets a merchant cut down the expenses that are associated with heightening the customers’ experience. Gooten’s team answers all questions your customers might have and pushes all the customers’ feedback to your inbox promptly.

For trending products, the pricing is relatively fair for the retailer. This leaves some space for merchants to adjust the profit margins. 

Merchify

Like most of the other print-on-demand solutions, Merchify integrates with Shopify to automate the order processing at any scale. You can download and install Merchify right from Shopify’s app marketplace.

Since it’s designed as a right-minded tool for the print on demand drop shipping model, you don’t need to have any inventory. A retailer can greatly improve their conversions and product search since Shopify is a responsive sales channel that’s also mobile-friendly. 

The truth of the matter is that online shoppers are sometimes impatient. So you have to act fast. Merchify makes it easy to boost your average order value via its user interface which goes a little in-depth when importing the product listings to your ecommerce store

To begin selling, you must first upload a product. This could be a t-shirt or just a canvas print. The next easy step is to import the images and set keyword-tuned product descriptions. Lastly, you get to publish your products on Shopify. 

As soon as the customer makes an order, the processing begins within the next business day. Merchify takes care of the packing, printing and shipping tasks. That helps a retailer to cut all corners and delegate the needful priorities. 

Merchify's team sends a tracking number once a shipment is dispatched. This eases the logistics process since both the merchant and a customer to keep a close eye on the order. 

In order to set your own retail price markups, Merchify sends all the billing information to your Shopify account. As such, you can manage all the shipping options and profit margins, correspondingly. 

When a customer makes a custom print order, Merchify notifies the online retailer on the same via an email. The details in the notification include an auto-generated order number, customer billing information, their shipping address, as well as the description of the product purchased. 

A shipping confirmation follows once the print-on-demand product is ready for dispatch. So long as your Shopify’s shipping confirmation settings are in check, Merhcify sends a tracking number to your customers, instantaneously. 

Print Aura

Print Aura is one of the most cost-effective platforms where you can design and print your custom brand. There’s a large pool of products to pick from. A user can either buy or print their brand at exceedingly low prices.

The size of your business doesn't matter anymore. This platform has no minimum number of orders. So you can just print a single t-shirt without any extra commitments. The turnaround time(TAT) is also convenient for both the entrepreneur and the shopper. 

Technically, Print aura’s team processes an order within 3-5 business days. The premium version of it does the order processing in just 48 hours. Although there might be a need to increase the production capacity, this doesn’t affect the level of product quality a customer might expect. 

In other words, Print Aura is built to scale your business to whatever peak your goals or objectives are. Most of all, it has design mock-ups that are of high quality. More than that, the retailer can customize the return labels and packing slips to market their brand. 

It’s such a good gesture that provides a print guarantee for all products. This covers possible and inevitable mishaps such as the common manufacturing defects. 

Besides Shopify, Print Aura integrates with WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Etsy, Opencart, and Storenvy. Everything considered it's so easy to start a t-shirt business here. On top of that, there are over 150K independent designers on Print Aura to help you to walk the path. 

Customcat

Customcat is a print-on-demand tool for crafty artists who are interested in monetizing their ideas. It’s more of an integration solution that makes product imports via a CSV file and connects to channels like Shopify or WooCommerce.

It’s also a hub for private developers who are highly experienced with custom APIs.Customcat is not only a product printer for hoodies, t-shirts, sweatpants, and the likes, but also an enterprise-focused solution built for industrial-like scalability.

If a merchant sells more products, it’s pretty certain that the revenue goes up. Customcat makes this goal to materialize since it has a large warehouse with a capacity to do mass customizations on orders. 

Last Takeaway….

So is the print-on-demand e-commerce business worth it?

Absolutely yes.

But here’s the perk.

Only work with the best. Shopify is a sales channel that integrates with nearly all the print-on-demand solutions. This implies that you don’t necessarily need to have any print and design skills.

After all, a platform such as Dribble hosts a solid number of experienced designers that you can hire at budget-friendly rates. 

Another shrewd approach to go about the print-on-demand model is to order a few samples from the supplier once you settle your mind upon a particular design mock-up. What makes POD a drop shipping option for many, is that one can test so many products. Also, the fact that Shopify gives optimal results for retailers who sell print on demand products. 

Considering the fact that Shopify’s plans are flexible, you can start your business using the most bounteous ecommerce sales channel. Since it’s an income-generating model like any other, you might want to keep your customer support system in order.

All the above-mentioned print on demand websites are distinctively good. You just need to consider what your needs are. If you get stuck, just hit the comment section below.

I'll be quick to help you settle any questions. 

Desirae Ojdick

Desirae is a passionate freelance copywriter, guest blogger, and a content creator. She takes her time to study all current trends related to the e-commerce industry.